Alexander Shelley, conductor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, is seen working with Sistema NB orchestras Saturday in preparation for a concert held Saturday night at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre. Over the course of two days, NACO musicians worked with their young counterparts, helping them learn some of the tricks of the trade. Photo by David Corkum
‘Everywhere I looked, the kids had big smiles on their faces’ (Ken MacLeod)
Article by KEVIN NIMMOCK -- TIMES & TRANSCRIPT -- May 1, 2017
Over the course of two days, New Brunswick’s youngest budding musicians spent with one of Canada’s top orchestras, Sistema executive director Ken MacLeod said that “everywhere I looked, the kids had big smiles on their faces.”
“That’s what it’s all about,” MacLeod said.
On Saturday night, 1,200 people packed into the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre to take in a free concert, during which young musicians from the Sistema NB program joined forces with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa. Leading up to the concert, NACO musicians worked with their young counterparts, helping them learn some of the tricks of the trade.
“One of the common refrains from the NACO musicians was that they were completely impressed by the level of focus, discipline and professionalism the kids had,” MacLeod said, noting that the average age of musicians was around 10.
Before he arrived in Moncton, NACO conductor Alexander Shelley said he wanted to really push the kids and treat them like serious musicians.
“If you challenge young people, and really push them, they respond better than if you dumb it down,” he said. “You can talk about really complex things and they really get it. There is no need to patronize kids.”
PHOTO: SUBMITTED: DAVID CORKUM
Sistema is a province-wide music program, wherein underprivileged kids learn to play instruments and work in an orchestral setting under the instruction of professional teaching artists.
“Our whole purpose is to engage kids who would otherwise be left out,” said MacLeod.“Talent is universally distributed, but opportunity isn’t.
“Kids who would never have enough money to play an instrument are performing at a really high level, because they have access to great teachers and tools.”
There are eight Sistema groups across the province, working with 850 kids for three hours after school, five days a week. This weekend, 280 young musicians were split into three groups, featuring musicians from Tobique First Nation, Richibucto, Saint John and Moncton.
There are eight Sistema groups across the province, working with 850 kids for three hours after school, five days a week.